Just as you had to let the inept kid play in a game because he owned the ball, the SCMP has to allow its editor-in-chief to write an occasional column. We might imagine hardened, normally brutal, subs treating her copy with a light touch, out of deference, distaste, or maybe disinterest – or (the nasty among us might think) spite.
The result is so bad (aside from being grammatically perfect) that it can be worth reading for the sheer denseness of non-sequiturs, contradictions and derailed trains of thought wrapped up in irrelevant and meaningless blather, all connected by lashings of clichés. Today’s starts like an earnest but vacuous Ted Talk…
Is Beijing really tightening its grip on Hong Kong?
The writing is clearly on the wall and that poses more questions. Is Beijing losing its patience to the extent that it now has to step in and play its part? Why?
After an inconclusive discussion about recent protests and associated official statements, and an inane diversion into Mainlanders’ supposed reaction to a local teacher’s odd take on the Opium Wars, it ends with…
The paradox is, Hong Kong is facing an inconvenient truth in Beijing becoming more hands on at a relatively convenient time as it sees more of the mainland population losing sympathy for the city.
At the same time, Beijing has also realised an equally hard-to-swallow truth – it risks losing Hong Kong’s next generation for complex reasons, but surely that includes a weak local government, either hamstrung by bureaucracy, lacking sensitivity, or, even worse, without the political will to get the job done.
More than ever now, the people of Hong Kong need a determined leadership that can truly bridge the cross-border divide and enhance mutual understanding.
Well, quite. And on the subject of Jack Ma’s newspaper – a pressing question:
This seems to have originally been an SCMP usage, though Reuters, HK Free Press and others have adopted it. It is especially used to describe Starry Lee, Maria Tam, Tam Yiu-chung and (when she was a thing) Rita Fan.
What these folk have in common is that they are prominent Beijing supporters with important-sounding roles (DAB chair, National People’s Congress deputy, etc). Under the CCP’s top-down Leninist system, these positions are essentially ceremonial. These individuals have no input into national policy – they are simply loyalists who parrot the party line.
So ‘heavyweight’ is obviously a misnomer, since they have no influence within the power structure. However, these people are relatively accessible (presumably under United Front instructions), and the media like to quote their ‘insights‘. I would guess the SCMP started to use the tag partly to flatter the bores and to give their empty-vase quotes an air of authority.
Also, perhaps, for lack of an alternative. The more obvious title of ‘shoe-shiner’, while accurate, would equally apply to dozens of nonentities we rarely hear from. ‘High-profile shoe-shiner who gets wheeled out a lot’ would be better, but I guess wordy.
Another unavoidable fact about the ‘heavyweights’ is that they are in fact rather insubstantial. One SCMP headline even said (roughly) ‘the heavyweights are dimwits’.
The more serious CCP loyalists do not seem to be called ‘heavyweights’. Mainland officials certainly aren’t. Hong Kong business-bureaucrat toadies aren’t. And the heftier local pro-Beijing political figures tend not to be. Tsang Yok-sing – who occasionally has opinions of his own – is usually not. Nor is CY Leung, who has a distinctive, if thoroughly obnoxious, personality.
A pro-government ‘heavyweight’, is, in short, a lightweight.
We probably need a new word. It can wait until after Maria Tam goes into retirement.